An in-school World Cup.

At the time of the 2010 World Cup I was asked whether I would be prepared to organise an in-school football tournament to run concurrently. I replied that while I would not be prepared to organise one, I was more than happy to facilitate it. And so, in the hands of a group of Year Six children who managed the organisation (writing letters to the Friends to persuade them to buy trophies etc.) logistics (fixture list etc.) and maths (league tables; points; goal differences etc.) incredibly, a week-long competition was born, gathered momentum and reached a genuinely tense, dramatic and memorable finale.

The premise for the tournament was very simple for a two-form entry junior school:

1. Eight members of staff were recruited to manage a team each.

2. ‘Squads’ of sixteen players comprised of two boys and two girls from each year group were given to each ‘manager’.

3. The eight teams were split into two groups of four with each team playing the others in their group once in a mini-league.

4. Matches were seven minutes each way and played, two every day, at lunchtime.

5. On Friday lunchtime, the two group winners and runners-up played one another in semi-finals and then…

6. The big one… The World Cup Final. On Friday afternoon, school shut down. Everybody abandoned their posts and gathered on the field to watch New Zealand v. Algeria (!). Parents were invited; governors were in the crowd; and children and staff got truly behind the two teams. The result was a crowd of several hundred, an amazing atmosphere and a match that went beyond full time; through extra-time; and then saw New Zealand triumph in sudden-death penalty shoot out.

It was talked about throughout the school for weeks after.

Last week, I was asked would I be prepared to organise an in-school World Cup 2014 tournament. Again, I’m leaving it to the children- last time they created something magical.

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Now! That’s Primary Blogging Volume Fourteen

Slightly delayed in its release this week…and also very short.

1. Technology is a tool to be used, not a learning outcome, via @ChrisWaterworth: http://videoformyclassroom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/technology-is-tool-to-be-used-not.html

2. The importance of quality teacher assessment, via @ChrisChivers2: http://www.inclusionmark.co.uk/blog/index.php/traditional-tales/

3. Compromise but don’t be compromised http://notsoordinarydiary.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/the-art-of-compromise/ and writing a music story http://classteachingtips.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/writing-a-music-story/ via @nancygedge

4. What kind of restaurant is your classroom, via @thought_weavers: https://thoughtweavers.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/what-kind-of-restaurant-is-your-classroom/

5. Displays- what and who are they for? Via @prawnseye: https://prawnseyeblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/displays-what-and-who-are-they-for/

6. Favourite primary bloggers, via @rachelorr: http://highheelsandhighnotes.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/orrsome-blog-posts-from-the-week-that-was-week-4/

7. INSET, via @theprimaryhead: http://wp.me/p31zzT-bF

Displays: what and who are they for?

“Classroom walls should mirror closely the pages of children’s books.”

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The recent words of a colleague and ones which have led me to question my own practice and learning environment.

I worked last week alongside a Local Leader in Education. In observing lessons, she spent a large portion of her time examining displays before summising that, used effectively, learning / working walks can and do play a significant role in supporting the learning of children who (and these are a group she singled out specifically) are not being guided / supported by a teacher or teaching assistant during a lesson.

Reflecting on what she had said, I realised the truth and wisdom of it. The learning walls she had seen, in particular for English, had been built up day-by-day over the course of a week. They were comprised of specific vocabulary generated through class-discussion; model sentences using that vocabulary written by both teachers and children using the structures being taught that week; and high-quality teacher model ,using both the earlier vocabulary and sentence types taught, of the pieces of writing the children themselves were aiming to produce at the end of the week.

Of course, learning walls will assume many forms to fulfil many purposes and some time ago I asked ‘colleagues’ on Twitter to tweet examples. Many were kind enough to do so, with thanks to @rpd1972, @ChrisWaterworth and @candacemccolgan especially, some of those are shared here:

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Not so very long ago, triple-mounted, best-copy displays were still de rigeur. Have those behemoths now had their day, replaced by an alternative that impacts on learning in an ongoing way?

I like to imagine that they have.

Now! That’s Primary Blogging Volume Thirteen

1. Progress in number from EYFS to Y2, via @ShrekTheTeacher: http://goo.gl/ak3z4J

2. Do we need a scheme of work for primary computing? Courtesy of @bekblayton: http://www.digitalclassrooms.co.uk/?p=890

3. Primary assessment and what remains to be done, via @michaelt1979: http://wp.me/p29wxK-wi

4. SEN framework changes and the implications for all teachers, via @ChrisChivers2: http://www.inclusionmark.co.uk/index.php/learningteaching/the-2014-sen-framework/ and also the impact of language-rich environments: http://www.inclusionmark.co.uk/blog/index.php/voice-enabled-and-activated/

5. Planning for transition, via @prawnseye: https://prawnseyeblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/trying-to-get-transition-right/

6. A glossary of questions, courtesy of @imagineinquiry: http://www.imaginative-inquiry.co.uk/2014/04/a-glossary-of-questions/#.U11YvXh-RFA.twitter

7. Primary computing in the new curriculum, courtesy of @primarypete_: http://primarypete.net/the-computing-curriculum

8. Transition, via @johnnywalker_edu: http://jonnywalkerteaching.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/the-inheritance-of-lots/

9. The flipped classroom: online peer-assessment and collaboration, courtesy of @ChrisWaterworth: http://videoformyclassroom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-flipped-classroom-online-feedback.html

10. Being positive with your class, courtesy of @readingthebooks: http://readingallthebooks.com/articles/2014/4/26/what-we-say-to-our-students

11. My most memorable lessons, via @dianekenny: http://theteachingnut.blogspot.com/2014/04/some-of-my-most-memorable-lessons.html?spref=tw

12. Music with Lego, via @nancygedge:
http://classteachingtips.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/music-with-lego/

13. Six accountability measures for UFSM, via @ajjolley: http://notveryjolley.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/mys

14. Unpacking the primary assessment and accountability reforms, via @giftedphoenix http://giftedphoenix.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/unpacking-the-primary-assessment-and-accountability-reforms/

15. Why do we remove freedom in learning as children get older? Via @imagineinquiry: http://www.imaginative-inquiry.co.uk/2014/05/a-short-blog-on-behaviour-challenge-and-expectations/

16. The inspector came to call, courtesy of @cherrylkd: http://cherrylkd.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/the-inspector-came-to-call/

Now! That’s Primary Blogging Volume Twelve

The first volume of the new term- not exhaustive but a range of primary and primary-related posts from the last few weeks. If you have any blogs that you would like included for future volumes please tweet them with the #NowPrimary.

1. To plan or not to plan, via @LeadingLearner: http://t.co/LlZ9Ny8DZW

2. Learning walls, via @StephenConnor7: http://t.co/iz5cVgV8lO

3. Email for FS and KS1, via @mr_macmac: http://t.co/MuGAgWuyGQ

4. New curriculm booklet, via @michaelt1979: http://t.co/cnbk05BsQK

5. Who are the children in your classroom, via @ChrisChivers2: http://t.co/traLr317xe

6. THe problem with FFT, via @IcingOnCakeBlog: http://t.co/fGclt3Ws3s

7. Emergent writing, via @nurserynook: http://t.co/vq6BFpE3tF

8. MFL in the new primary curriculm, via @jowinchester: https://t.co/MMljmCtmKV

9. Testing times, courtesy of @nancygedge: http://t.co/RA2NLnwxZs

10. What goes on behind a Head’s closed door? Courtesy of @jillberry106: http://t.co/x912Cxl1GQ

11. Honesty in education, via @PrimaryHead1: http://t.co/f8dsn0Bk0Q

12. Using computer games as a prompt for writing, via @FarrowMr: http://t.co/hvaUkwdqKK

13. Cabinet making and writing- how similar are they? Via @prawnseye: http://t.co/hzXHIgxSh0

14. From TA to AHT, via @cherrylkd: http://t.co/QXrLL2bWkp

15. What I do is what I am, via @Mishwood1: https://twitter.com/Mishwood1

Cabinet-making and Writing- are they the same thing?

Of the many jobs I had prior to becoming a teacher, the first was as a cabinet-maker. The small firm I worked for specialised in designing and making exquisite bespoke, to-order furniture. Alongside me worked incredible craftsmen, artists,almost, who used their skill, knowledge and experience to transform simple lengths of timber into intricately detailed objects of which they were justly proud.

As an unskilled newcomer, it was, for a long time, beyond my ability to produce finished pieces of furniture. I could visualise a rocking chair but hadn’t the skills to fashion the manifold component parts required to construct one. Had I attempted to do so, I might have ended up with a rough approximation, but the most cursory of inspections by even an untrained eye would quickly have revealed the faults in my work.

And so, how to improve my craftsmanship? I could, of course, have stumbled from one project to the next,repeating and entrenching my errors as I went, each finished product being no better than the one previous. Instead, I ceased making whole pieces altogether and focused rather on mastering the small joins,turns and touches I would later be able to use in making anything I might be asked to. This involved frequent repetition and rehearsal of skills and could often be tedious. But over time, I acquired an array of small tricks which, when combined, eventually allowed me to make the same furniture I had seen my colleagues producing in my fledgling days with them.

At that time, progress was little more than a word stuck about two thirds of the way through the dictionary. It certainly didn’t ever cross my mind that although I didn’t improve every single day, and although some small improvements took days or even weeks to become apparent, my progress over time was
huge.

Now it does.

In January, I took over a year three class whose writing I have been grappling with ever since. A small number of the children use magical words, phrases and sentences from which they can then already craft and construct extended pieces of writing in all manner of styles. Far greater in number though are the children who remind me of my nascent cabinet-maker self; those who know roughly what a quest myth, a non-chronological report or a set of instructions should look like, but those who don’t yet have mastery of the smaller skills required to create a high-quality outcome.

And so, because of my own experiences as a learner in an entirely different situation, I will be approaching the teaching of writing in a very different way this term. For those who need it, I will step back from asking them to write extended pieces in which structure and cohesion quickly become lost. Instead, I will focus on gradually achieving success, accuracy and precision on a smaller scale, with carefully chosen and crafted words, phrases and sentences, before attempting anything grander.

It worked for a cabinet-maker; why can’t it work for writers?

Now! That’s Primary Blogging Volume Eleven

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Welcome to the final Now! Primary Blogging of this term. I hope it’s been useful and / or interesting to at least a few people. Here are this week’s posts:

1. RAISEonline made clear, via @MaryMyatt: http://t.co/5pBdbL0O3S

2. Schools are losing what used to matter and are worse for it, courtesy of @nanncygedge: http://t.co/CDFaHN6AMJ

3. Ofsted, data and RI schools, via @IcingOnCakeBlog: http://t.co/w3GMa9kU0U

4. The countdown to the end of levels, courtesy of @ClassrmMonitor: http://t.co/5EYQlhopl6

5. Why levels need to be replaced, via @daisychristo: http://t.co/pZWJPGAtV2

6. Don’t let teaching take everything else away from your life, via @tstarkey1212: http://t.co/dC2bXx3JPx

7. The inequalities offered by a private education, courtesy of @jon_brunskill: http://t.co/dHNxmON4p2

8. Getting transition right, via @prawnseye: http://t.co/Nk3vQXSSm1

9. Are the unions defeating themselves, via @secretteacher6: http://t.co/udg2avqjxz

10. When partnership is more than just a name, via @ThePrimaryHead: http://t.co/qhjGXrGHXi

11. Teaching_ a great career? Courtesy of @anhalf: http://t.co/3RTorK7Ghn

12. Using social media in primary schools, via @bekblayton: http://t.co/wXUnfyqpZC

13. CPD taken truly seriously, courtesy of @ChrisMoyse: http://t.co/uvulqyvMBo

14.  The power of involving children in their learning, via @BethBudden: http://t.co/8YkDxptGeD

15. KS2 tests post 2016, via @michaelt1979: http://t.co/IUT72EdtFl

16. Differing approached to problem solving, via @MrNickHart: http://t.co/POnCDEQSh6

17. The flipped primary classroom, via @ChrisWaterworth: http://t.co/EvmpenYer7

18. Primary assessment and accountability, via @warwickmansell: http://t.co/vXJpnuHfii

19. Book scrutiny- the new lesson observation? Courtesy of @MissDCox: http://t.co/yxTo3NjX3A

20. Can childhood really be left to grey men? Via @ChrisChivers2: http://t.co/cZkyCYA4KB

21. The importance of working with parents, via @nancygedge: http://t.co/Fm938Njcou

22. Relationships and why they are at the centre of prinary schools’ work: http://t.co/cJ6h0861mK

23. Using Twitter to share and develop ideas and resources, via @PrimaryIdeas: http://t.co/XJ7vNmfePx

24. Through schools: might they become more prevalent? Courtesy of @LeadingLearner: http://t.co/a1QGfoGyzw

25. The importance of reading in improving literacy, via @CarbisRichard: http://t.co/TBSWYZIIX6

26. A rare primary MFL post, courtesy of @JanetLloydnet: http://t.co/2SFeWZ5GI6